Poetry, VNA, and “Knuffle Bunny”

By Lois Caplan

DR. BENJAMIN “BEN OR BUD” MILDER, has a brand new, hot-off-the-press book of his poetry, “From Adolescence to Senescence: A Life in Light Verse” (Time Being Books, $15.95). It’s Milder’s sixth book of light verse and is a sort of poetic album of his life.  Expect no photographs, only word pictures of everything from the Terrible Teens to the Later Years with every stage in between. In other words, Milder has an opinion, always funny, about almost everything in the world. He dedicated the book to his sisters, Roma Wittcoff and the late Lillian Katzman.

Except for “La Ronde,” about women’s vanity regarding eyeglasses and “Free Enterprise,” which is the story of bikini wearing, hot dog vendor Gloria Gonzales whose weenies and buns are outstanding, all the other poems are new.

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Here’s a sample of a short poem with a long title, “A Get-Well Card from the Board of Directors to the Hospital Administrator.” The entire board sends you their greetings. / We missed you at the recent meetings. /We’ve learned you’re ailing, brother Lou, /And the sick committee wishes you/ should soon recover and survive. /The vote, I think, was 6 to 5.

Milder is 93 years old.  He and his wife, Jeanne, who is a fine pianist, have traveled widely in all hemispheres and to visit three of their four sons – a physician in Seattle, a rabbi in Massachusetts and a an industrial show writer in New York. Their fourth son, a physician, lives in St. Louis.  Just in case you missed it, I think of Milder as the Poet Laureate of light verse of St. Louis, maybe the world. In his introduction to the book, publisher Louis Daniel Brodsky, himself a poet, tells about having lunch with Milder. “In an utterly engaging way, he was vital – alert, passionate, curious, enthusiastic, modest, brimming with gentle humor, curiosity.”

“From Adolescence to Senescence” is available by ordering from the publisher at 1-866-840-4334 or on line at www.timebeing.com.

VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION (VNA) of Greater St. Louis will celebrate a century of service to the community at a “Night of a Hundred Years” gala at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22 in the Starlight Ballroom at the Chase Park Plaza.

That old adage, “You’ve come a long way, baby” truly applies to VNA.  Its first services, bringing home health care to ‘the indigent sick,” was provided by nurses transported by horse and buggy. VNA was the area’s first independent, not-for-profit home health care agency. Over the course of history, VNA has expanded its services beyond the indigent community to every socioeconomic group.  Today it provides a variety of health care services throughout the greater St. Louis area and beyond including hospice care, flu shots, immunizations, travel health, disease prevention, health management and wellness.

Proceeds from the Night of a Hundred Years gala will benefit patients and families in VNA”s hospice program.  VNA accepts hospice patients without regard to ability to pay. Established even before the Medicare Hospice benefit was made permanent in 1986, VNA is the only community-based, non-profit, United Way member hospice in St. Louis.

The gala, a black tie optional evening, features cocktails, dinner, dessert and a cordial bar.  There will be a live auction with KMOX radio personality Doug McElvin serving as master of ceremonies.  For ticket information or reservations call 314-918-7171 extension 1202 or visit www.vnastl.com.

“KNUFFLE BUNNY-A CAUTIONARY TALE” is a wildly popular children’s book by Mo Willems, a three-time Caldecott winning author.   COCA Family Theatre Series will present the Kennedy Center’s “Knuffle Bunny – A Cautionary Tale” based on the book complete with music by Grammy Award winning composer Michael Silversher with five performances over the weekend of Jan. 21-23. Children are invited to bring their stuffed animals to the performance and pajamas are welcomed on Friday, 7 p.m. show. For tickets, priced at $14 to $18, log on to www.cocastl.org.

OOPS – I GOOFED. In last week’s column I told you about Dorothy Firestone’s recipe for coleslaw, which I thought was her Almost Carnegie Cole Slaw.  Wrong! Instead it is her Pantry Plus Cole Slaw and the recipe was one she provided for the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. Not to worry.  Firestone tells me that it is a very good recipe, as tasty as her Carnegie version.